"I had expected to feel joy but instead felt a confusion of sorrow, or maybe fear, for it seemed that my life was a hungry story and I its source, and with this kiss I had now begun to deliver myself into the words." (Evalina, page 20)
Book Description (from amazon.com): The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation. Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. And Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, who bears witness, understands the weight of historical injustice better than anyone. Through the distinct and winning voices of three unforgettable narrators, the collective stories of two interwoven communities ultimately come together to reveal a final wrenching truth.
"When we are young, the words are scattered all around us. As they are assembled by experience, so also are we, sentence by sentence, until the story takes shape." (Evalina, page 268)
My Thoughts: The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008) reads like a deeply patterned quilt. Each square, just like each character, has their own story to tell, yet each are connected to form the one story that haunted a town for generations.
Set in and around U.S. reservation territory, the Plague of Doves revolves around the murder of an entire family save a baby, and the American Indians who are wrongly accused and hanged for the crime. The murder has become legend in the town of Plato and Erdrich takes the reader on a journey with many twists and turns. We are introduced to a bevy of interesting and troubled characters, each struggling to find their place in a present defined by the past. We discover the story through the eyes of several different characters as the narrators rotate throughout the book.
Erdrich's writing is exquisite. There is a romantic quality to the telling of this heavy and powerful tale. In the final chapter, the circle is completed, connecting all points. Each character's relationship and role is fully revealed as we are given the final missing pieces to this intricate puzzle. The Plague of Doves is a book you need to digest slowly, enjoying the evolution of story to legend when left in the hands of a very gifted writer.
|Photo by Paul Emmel|
Erdrich is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. In 2009, her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In November 2012, she received the National Book Award for Fiction for her novel The Round House.
She is also the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis that focuses on Native American literature and the Native community in the Twin Cities.